It’s Saint Patrick’s Day in Pa. Do we toast? Or maybe just exhale a bit? | Wednesday Morning Coffee

(Image via pxHere.com)

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day, that uniquely American holiday where everyone pretends for 12 hours that they have a tiny bit of Irish in them, dresses in green, eats corned beef and cabbage, and gets silly drunk on green beer. Outside the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, it’s probably one of the biggest days of the year for bar and tavern owners.

Or at least it used to be. Last year at this time, we were a day or so into the COVID-19 pandemic, and the holiday was abruptly called off as the state went into lockdown, and the harsh reality of this unprecedented public health threat gradually settled on all of us.

A year later, with vaccinations slowly ramping up, caseloads trending downward, and the first real glimmers of hope starting to shine, we’re in a very different place. And that calls for a very different kind of holiday observance.

Last week, the Wolf administration gave the all-clear for scaled-down celebrations at Pennsylvania’s bars and restaurants. And, as our friends at PennLive note, some bar and tavern-keepers are looking forward to a return to something approximating normal.

“I’m glad they’re not going to take away another one of our biggest days,” Matt Flinchbaugh, the owner of Flinchy’s in Cumberland County, told PennLive. He’s planning to open at 7 a.m. this morning for a traditional Irish breakfast.

And if that’s your thing, more power to you. I’d suggest that this Saint Patrick’s Day calls for a very different kind of observance — one closer to the true spirit of the holiday than the O’Holiday it’s become in the United States.

The real Saint Patrick’s Dayaccording to Irish Central, was mostly a sober day of prayer and reflection for Irish Catholics in Ireland. The holiday we now know and love is an Irish-American invention. And it wasn’t until 1995 that the Irish themselves decided to cash in on the misty-eyed nostalgia of us Yanks, Irish Central notes.

(Image via pxHere.com)

This year, though, big celebrations just feel out of place. It’s not the COVID-19 equivalent of VE-Day yet. We have the disease on the run, perhaps, and maybe we’re close, but we’re not figuratively marching through the streets of 1940s Berlin just yet.

I get the need for a big bash. We all need to blow off steam in the biggest way imaginable. Doing it right now though, well… that feels like tempting fate. I’m not saying don’t celebrate. Just be careful if you do.

We’re close. But we’re not there yet.

John L. Micek | Editor

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Four of Pennsylvania’s legislative redistricting commissioners are confirmed. The fifth will decide who wins and loses, Stephen Caruso reports.

Gov. Tom Wolf has nominated veteran attorney Suzanne Estrella to run the state Office of Victim AdvocateElizabeth Hardison reports.

The state Capitol will reopen to the public on MondayStephen Caruso also reports.

State Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Indiana, citing illness, resigned from the General Assembly on Tuesday, Caruso further reports.

Promising that ‘more help is on the way,’ President Joe Biden toured a Black-owned flooring business in Delaware County on Tuesday as he touted the benefits of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, I report, with an assist from Correspondent Nick Field.

On our Commentary Page this morning, a Villanova University expert takes a look at the other public health crisis impacting Pennsylvania’s jails and prisons: a mental health crisis. And Black advocates for Philadelphia charter schools cast a critical eye at Gov. Tom Wolf’s charter school reform proposals

(Image via The Philadelphia Gay News)

Elsewhere.
With vaccination efforts ramping up, so too are efforts to care for Philadelphia’s immigrants, the Inquirer reports.
State health officials say all Phase 1A vaccination efforts should be made by March 31, the Tribune-Review reports.
Classroom days are set to increase for students in grades 6-12 in Cumberland County’s sprawling Cumberland Valley School District, the Sentinel of Carlisle reports.
Lancaster County’s mass vaccination site has vaccinated 6,100 people in its first weekLancasterOnline reports.
PennLive looks at how Harrisburg’s State Street Academy has kept the music alive during the pandemic.
Three years into the state’s opioids disaster declaration, Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation for overdose deaths, the Morning Call reports.
The FBI says a woman from Swoyersville, Pa., was filmed inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM has additional coverage of President Joe Biden’s visit to Delaware County on Tuesday.
Legislative action on increasing Pennsylvania’s energy goals seems unlikely, WPSU-FM reports.
Pennsylvania’s summer camp industry is still ‘fragile,’ but cabins are starting to fill upGoErie reports.
State House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, have been named to top leadership posts in the Republican State Leadership CommitteePoliticsPA reports.
Oil friendly states are fighting back against a trend in sustainable investmentsStateline.org reports.
Roll Call has three lessons from the Ghost of Redistricting Past.

What Goes On.
The House and Senate both come in at 11 a.m. today. Here’s a look at the day’s committee action.
In the Senate:
9 a.m., Live Streamed: 
Local Government Commission
10 a.m, Senate Chamber: State Government Committee
10:30 a.m, Senate Chamber: Transportation Committee
Off the Floor: Appropriations Committee
In the House:
8 a.m, G50 Irvis: 
State Government Committee
9 a.m., 140 MC: Children & Youth Committee

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
8 a.m.: 
Breakfast for Sen. John Yudichak
8 a.m.: 
Breakfast for Rep. Jim Marshall
8 a.m.: 
Breakfast for Sen. Joe Pittman
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out $4,000 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to former Capital-Star Correspondent Patrick Abdalla, now deputy editor of The Keystone, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day, sir.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a great playlist curated
 by former Spandau Ballet guitarist Gary Kemp and veteran session bassist Guy Pratt (Roxy Music, others) based on the work of guests on their very listenable ‘Rockonteurs’ podcast. And if you take a look at the tracks, it’s pretty clear that Pratt and Kemp have among the deepest contact lists in pop music.

Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Detroit 
snapped Carolina’s winning streak at eight games on Tuesday night. The ‘Wings topped the ‘Canes 4-2 at Little Caesar’s ArenaDetroit’s Filip Hronek scored an unassisted, empty net goal at the buzzer to cement the win.

And now you’re up to date. 

John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press